A whistleblower must be the original source of the information in order to bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act (FCA).  31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4).  To qualify as the original source, the whistleblower’s information must not have been publicly disclosed.  § 3730(e)(4)(A).  Information will be deemed publicly disclosed if it is the subject of a civil or criminal trial or hearing; a congressional report, hearing, audit, or investigation; or in the news.  Id. 

In limited instances a whistleblower may still be the original source even if there has been a public disclosure.  For example, if the whistleblower brought a FCA suit and disclosed the information to the government before the public disclosure, he is still the original source.   § 3730(e)(4)(B).  A whistleblower may also become the original source if their information “is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations.”  § 3730(e)(4)(B).

Failure to qualify as the original source is fatal to a whistleblower suit.  As such, it is critical that anyone contemplating becoming a whistleblower be careful not to publicly disclose information.

If you have discovered fraud against the government, contact Miller Law Group today for a free consultation or call us at (919) 348-4361.  Our whistleblower lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of the False Claims Act.

Additional Resources: 

Recent Developments in Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblower’s Award in False Claims Act Case

Does the whistleblower need to prove intent to defraud?